Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 29.djvu/359

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Confederate Sffifc* Sfftfr Department. 343

nation active. Another oft-printed story is that Miss Van Lew, a person of known Union sympathies, residing in Richmond, but having no official position or social entre, contrived to purvey highly important information for the Washington Government. She might have picked up some empty gossip and rumors in circulation, but nothing more. In fact, even the leading citizens of Richmond knew little or nothing of what was passing or contemplated by the government until events actually transpired. The newspapers of Richmond were hardly any better off. The sessions of the Confed- erate Congress on all matters of importance were with closed doors and have never been published. The printed reports of the public sessions were very meager in fact, mere skeleton reports. The Federal spy occasionally entered the Southern lines, and, perhaps, visited Richmond, but he went away as wise as when he came. He could hardly have done any good work, or he would have reported to the War Department that Richmond had practically no garrison before May. 1863, and only a small one afterward. The blockade runners were allowed to pass between Richmond and Washington, but were a harmless set of gentlemen. I used to cross-examine them, but met only one that had any intelligence of interest, and that was on subjects not connected with the war. This person was a woman who knew how to use her eyes and ears, but not well enough to affect a campaign or change the face of history.


The successive heads of the Confederate State Department, Messrs. Toombs, Hunter, and Benjamin, and those gentlemen serving under it, such as Slidell, Mason, Mann, Yancey, Preston, Lamar, Thompson, Clay, and others, were then either advanced in years or middle-aged men, and now, over thirty-five years having elapsed, it is not strange that they have gone to their rest. I am the only survivor of those who were in the State Department at Richmond, and, I think, 'the only one living who was in its service at home or abroad. I had been spending a few weeks in Richmond, chiefly engaged in editorial work for the Examiner, when, about the 4th of November, 1861, by the invitation of Mr. Hunter, then Sec- retary of State, I became his chief clerk. On the 22d of February, 1862, the government under the " Permanent Constitution " of the Confederacy was inaugurated. This led to some changes in person- nel. Mr. Hunter went into the Confederate Senate, representing